1999 Dante Rivetti Barbera d’Alba Alabarda

Hello friends. I became deeply smitten recently with a wine that I would not have expected. So smitten, in fact, that I bought the entire (small) parcel remaining in western Washington (note: there does seem to be one additional parcel floating around NYC, so if we have to under-allocate, that’s another option).

Why, you ask, was this a surprising prick from Cupid’s arrow? Because it is just so rare to taste aged Barbera.

I can count on one hand the number of Barberas I have tasted with more than five years of age. And it seems like each time, I’m pleasantly surprised. Perhaps I shouldn’t be. After all, what makes Barbera so attractive in its youth (the grape’s high natural acidity, which leads to youthful juicy deliciousness) is the exact component that helps it to evolve in compelling directions with some bottle age.

That acid serves as a preservative, keeping the wine fresh as the flavors evolve. And because Barbera has low natural tannin, its aging curve is quite a bit faster than, say, a burly Barolo. So we can taste some of the wonderful tertiary flavors here in a 14-year-old wine that can take quite a bit longer to develop with other grapes.

In the glass, this looks almost like Nebbiolo, picking up some of that varietal’s classic orange tones near the rim. The nose is a beautiful example of a maturing old-world wine, with deeply crepuscular aromatics of fallen leaves and mushrooms interplaying with a lovely core of dried-cherry fruit. The palate repeats both the dried cherry and leafy notes, all on a frame that is still quite vibrant with all that good Barbera acidity. The tannins have softened and integrated completely. I don’t think this wine will evolve much from here, but it provides terrific immediate gratification for those of us who love mature flavors. Complex, evocative, haunting; as I said, I’m smitten with this one.

Please limit order requests to 4 bottles, and we’ll do our best to fulfill all requests. The wine is already in the warehouse and is ready for immediate pickup or shipping during the spring shipping window.

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